PACAF enlisted induct Gen. Ken Wilsbach into Order of the Sword

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Nick Wilson
  • Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs

Pacific Air Forces’ enlisted force honored Gen. Ken Wilsbach, PACAF commander, with an induction into the Order of the Sword on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Feb. 8.

Gen. Ken Wilsbach, who commanded PACAF from June 2020 to February 2024, is the sixteenth leader to be inducted into the PACAF Order of the Sword.

Before his acceptance speech he thanked the enlisted force for their contribution to PACAF’s success.

“I lead because I care about you, and for you to turn that love back on me … it gets me right here,” Wilsbach expressed, clenching his fist to his chest, emphasizing gratitude in a beating heart gesture. “The U.S. Air Force is so incredibly strong because of you. Our enlisted corps, especially the noncommissioned officers, is why we can do what we do!”

Wilsbach’s voice brimmed with emotion as he uttered his next words.

“This will be a memory for me to have for the rest of my life. It is a pleasant surprise and something that is deeply honoring to me,” Wilsbach continued. “I’m so grateful and so thankful that you would take the time to award me this and it means a tremendous amount to me — one of the greatest honors I’ve ever received. Thank you.”

In the Air Force, the Order of the Sword remains the highest honor presented by the enlisted corps to a senior ranking officer and is maintained by the command chief master sergeant of the designated command.

Chief Master Sgt. David Wolfe, PACAF command chief, explained why Wilsbach was selected for the prestigious honor.

“Gen. Wilsbach is a steadfast supporter of issues that affect Airmen and families,” reflected Wolfe, who worked with Wilsbach for more than five years. “He truly believes in the value of our enlisted force. He never fails to say 'yes' when presented with opportunities to improve professional and personal conditions for Airmen.”

Wolfe also discussed how Wilsbach led from the front, devoting large parts of his schedule specifically to spend quality time with enlisted Airmen.

“It’s the enlisted force that makes the difference in everything; I’ve heard him say that continuously during the last three years,” Wolfe said. “It’s evident from his commitment to support efforts for our enlisted force that he takes great pride in their achievements and aims to enhance their quality of life in return.”

Wolfe specified one of those ongoing efforts is to secure better housing and dormitories for his junior enlisted Airmen throughout the theater. Additionally, Wilsbach champions collaborative efforts with regional Allies and partners to train and develop their enlisted corps, using PACAF Airmen as the example.

“Wilsbach stands by the fact that the strength of PACAF’s enlisted force is a distinct advantage our adversaries cannot match,” Wolfe said.

Wolfe had a discussion with all PACAF wing command chiefs as well as other active and retired senior noncommissioned officers who previously worked for Wilsbach, all of whom unanimously agreed to Wilsbach’s induction into the Order of the Sword.

“It’s not my decision whether or not someone gets the Order of the Sword in PACAF,” Wolfe said. “It’s a team decision. Not a single person had anything to say contrary to a ‘yes’ vote.”

Moreover, Wolfe expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to work for Gen. Wilsbach, emphasizing the loyalty and leadership qualities he demonstrated each day.

“I’m grateful that I’ve been able to work with someone the caliber of Gen. Wilsbach,” Wolfe said. “You want leaders who earn and reward your loyalty. He’s proven that every single day with his emotional investment, genuine care and concern for enlisted Airmen, and unwavering belief in our mission,” Wolfe expressed in closing. “He doesn’t put up with anything less than excellent service for our Airmen.”